Longevity of training takes determination. Determination requires a change in mindset that allows you to see the importance of completing a task daily. If you don’t create a daily training routine, your dog may become neurotic. Listed below are 5 steps that I have used to ensure that I stay determined in meeting Odin’s long term training goals:
1. Create a Clear Plan – Determine the big picture goal you want to achieve with your training as it will give you a direction for creating smaller goals. Design your daily training schedule around these smaller goals. For Odin, my goal is to have an obedient, happy, and calm dog. For obedience, we work on creating solid recalls and practice listening to commands from a distance. For happiness, we use games to solidify his training and positive reinforcement. For calmness, we practice Dr. Overall’s Protocol for Relaxation. To turn your goals into action, you need clear action steps for how you will achieve them on a daily basis. I keep a list of my goals on a chalkboard wall in my living room so they are visible and they help me see how these daily tasks contribute to the bigger picture.
2. Plan Quick Wins – Incorporating quick wins into your training will help keep you and your dog determined and motivated. These are things that you know can be accomplish quickly. Yesterday, Odin was having a rough time with training and I decided that we could use a quick win. We switched to learning the trick “tell me a secret” which I knew he could learn quickly. It only took him a handful of tries to catch on. Quick wins will help increase engagement and motivation, especially when it feels like you are not succeeding.
3. Visualize the Rewards – On days when it is hard to bring yourself to devote time to training try watching a training video to help you visualize the rewards you are working towards. I currently follow a handful of Border Collie trainers (my favorite is PositiveDogCare) on Instagram and their posts get me excited about training. Sometimes, your determination can be reignited by seeing what you are working towards.
4. Recover/Learn From Mistakes – Sometimes life disrupts your schedule and you fall behind. Don’t let that stop you from continuing, rather you should determine why you were falling behind. I fell behind on Odin’s recall training because it required a lot of prep work as I would practice in a field where they were a lot of good distractions for recall practice. Since it was time consuming, I would always convince myself that I didn’t have time to take him out. So, I started to change my behavior to accommodate recall practice. I could incorporate distractions inside the house so we could train on recalls while I was watching TV, or getting ready for work. All I needed to do was set up a distraction for him and have my clicker and treats on me.
5. Ask for Help – If you are having trouble keeping up with your training schedule, sign up for training classes. Most classes are affordable and occur weekly which is a great way to keep a training schedule. Currently, Odin is in 3 classes that meet once a week: Rally, Nose-work, and Continued Obedience. Being in these classes greatly helps me keep on track with his training. Even if I may slip on training at home, I know that I have 3 scheduled classes that will keep us moving towards our goal.